Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, and Morris Claiborne- all high draft picks from the past few years, all big question marks for the Cowboys.
Will Dez Bryant stay out of trouble? Will Murray and Carter be healthy enough to reach their potential? Will Claiborne blossom into a shutdown corner?
Signs point to yes, but the ultimate question still remains: when will the Cowboys be good enough?
It's not just the high draft picks, its the team. The mindset, organizational leadership, and sporadic play has left this team 8-8 the past two seasons. The Cowboys have a history of winning and this team, with this much talent, earning this amount of money, has failed. No way around it: the cowboys have been among the most disappointing franchises in professional sports over the past several years.
2007- 13-3- divisional round exit
2008- started 5-0- missed the playoffs
2009- the good year- divisional round exit
2010- 6-10- a texas sized collapse
2011- 8-8- so close
2012- 8-8- so close part 2.
The cowboys rely on athletic ability to win games in a sport with the most athletically gifted people on earth. It is ironic, paradoxical, and most importantly, unsuccessful.
Here's the harsh truth: the Cowboys are soft. Jason Garret is a 12 year old playing Madden. Tony Romo is a whiner. The defense relies on the offense to make plays, while the offense can't get plays off in time because no one wants to listen. The Cowboys are finesse but have no backbone to support it.
So, when the Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL draft, they had one goal in mind: toughness. Team leaders like DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten are good players, but lack toughness. Tony Romo is the toughest player around Dallas (see 2011 San Francisco game) but is given the goat because the rest of the team can't come through when it matters most. They are injured, confused, and lack the most important quality for a football player: toughness.
There are two sides to toughness. There is the physical side and the mental side. The Cowboys needed a player who wasn't scared to hit you (legally, on the field) in the mouth. Someone who was going to sacrifice his body so that the boys can get a first down. Someone who was just big and nasty. The Cowboys also need a player who is mentally tough. Someone who wasn't going to engage in trash talk but not friendly, either. Someone who wasn't going to let the mantra of "America's Team" get in his way. Someone who was going to show his worth on the field.
Someone like Travis Frederick.
Frederick was the highest rated center in my book. He is 6'3, 312 pounds and plays like it too. He is not fast but he is strong as a hog. He can take on any nose tackle in the league. He was also an academic all american at Wisconsin, and was a team leader in a year where Wisconsin really needed it. In one word, he is solid.
Frederick is the prototype offensive lineman from Wisconsin. He doesn't talk much. He plays between the whistles, and rarely after. He is clean, cool, and ready to pancake you.
He is tough.
The Cowboys have spent too much time with sexy players. Frederick, both in his style and look, is the exact opposite of sexy (no offense.) He is a blue collar, lunch pale kind of player. And, looking around Valley Ranch, he may be the only one.
The main question for Frederick will be how he fits with this team. The short answer is that he won't and that's the point. The Cowboys need to take a break from guys who have "potential." I am so sick of hearing about players who are great athletes. The Cowboys don't need great athletes, they need great football players.
Now, maybe Frederick was a reach. Maybe that will inspire him, put a chip on his shoulder, motivate him to work harder. Or maybe he will do what he always does: play solid football. It sounds boring, but the Cowboys need boring. Frederick won't be the star of any commercial, or the player of the game, or the next candidate for Dancing with the Stars. But, you know what he will do?
He will keep Romo on his feet a second longer so that he doesn't throw that interception against Washington.
He will open the hole for DeMarco Murray so that he doesn't have to shake and bake which makes him roll an ankle.
He will give Dez Bryant time to develop his route so that he get's his whole body in the back of the end zone against the Giants.
But, most importantly, he will play tough football.
So, call Travis Frederick a reach. Maybe the Cowboys should have drafted Sharrif Floyd (the biggest question mark this year), or Kyle Long (great athlete, football player?), or Matt Elam (doesn't fit into the Tampa 2.) Jerry Jones has made some awful picks and this may be one of those examples.
But, here's what I do know. Frederick may be a reach, and slow, and a benefactor of playing with a great offensive line. But what's he's not is soft- and that's all that matters.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
This is not your average mock draft. It is a three round ideal situation for each team. Make sure to tune into the draft tonight to see how many teams are willing to do what is actually good for them.
1(1): OT Luke Joeckel- Texas A&M- Chiefs
1(2): CB DeMarcus Milner- Alabama- Jaguars
1(3): DE Ezekiel Ansah- BYU- Raiders
1(4): OT Eric Fisher- Central Michigan- Eagles
1(5): DE/OLB Dion Jordan- Oregon- Lions
1(6): CB Xavier Rhodes- Florida State- Browns
1(7): QB Matt Barkley- USC- Cardinals
1(8): WR Cordarrelle Patterson- Tennessee- Bills
1(9): DE/OLB Bjorn Werner- Florida State- Jets
1(10): DT Star Lotulelei- Utah- Titans
1(11): OT Lane Johnson- Oklahoma- Chargers
1(12): DT Sharif Floyd- Florida- Dolphins
1(13): CB Desmond Trufant- Washington- Jets
1(14): DT Sheldon Richardson- Missouri- Panthers
1(15): S Kenny Vacaro- Texas- Saints
1(16): WR Tavon Austin- West Virginia- Rams
1(17): OLB Barkevious Mingo- LSU- Steelers
1(18): S Matt Elam- Florida- Cowboys
1(19): ILB Alec Ogletree- Georgia- Giants
1(20): QB Geno Smith- West Virginia- Bears
1(21): OLB Jarvis Jones- Georgia- Bengals
1(22): RB Eddie Lacy-Alabama- Rams
1(23): G Jonathan Cooper- UNC-Vikings
1(24): NT Jonathan Jenkins- Georgia- Colts
1(25): DT Sylvester Williams- UNC- Vikings
1(26): G Chance Warmack - Alabama- Packers
1(27): ILB Manti Te’o- Notre Dame- Texans
1(28): DE Tank Carradine- Florida State- Broncos
1(29): WR DeAndre Hopkins- Clemson- Patriots
1(30): CB D.J. Hayden- Houston- Falcons
1(31): TE Zach Ertz- Stanford- 49ers
1(32): ILB Keven Minter- LSU- Ravens
2(1): LB Khaseem Greene- Rutgers- Jaguars
2(2): RB Giovani Bernard- North Carolina- Bengals
2(3): CB Jamar Taylor- Boise State- Eagles
2(4): OT Kyle Long- Oregon- Lions
2(5): DE Margus Hunt- SMU- 49ers
2(6): OT/G D.J. Fluker- Alabama- Cardinals
2(7): BROWNS FORFIT FOR JOSH GORDON
2(8): OT Menelik Watson- Florida State- Jets
2(9): G Larry Warford- Kentucky- Titans
2(10): QB Ryan Nassib- Syracuse- Bills
2(11) OT/G Justin Pugh- Syracuse- Dolphins
2(12): LB Arthur Brown- Kansas State- Buccaneers
2(13): CB David Amerson- N.C. State- Panthers
2(14): SAINTS FORFIT FOR BOUNTYGATE
2(15): G Terron Armstead- Arkansas Pine Bluff- Chargers
2(16): S Eric Reed- LSU- Rams
2(17): G Dallas Thomas- Tennessee- Cowboys
2(18): CB Jonathan Banks- Mississippi State- Steelers
2(19): CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson- Connecticut- Giants
2(20): ILB Kiko Alonso- Oregon- Bears
2(21): WR Justin Hunter- Tennessee- Redskins
2(22): WR Kennan Allen- California- Vikings
2(23): S Jonathan Cyprien- Florida International- Bengals
2(24): CB Darius Slay- Mississippi State- Dolphins
2(25): WR Robert Woods- USC- Packers
2(26): TE Tyler Eifert- Notre Dame- Seahawks
2(27): LB DeMontre Moore- Texas A&M- Texans
2(28): DT Kawann Short- Purdue- Broncos
2(29): NT Jonathan Hankins- Ohio State- Patriots
2(30): DE Alex Okafor- Texas- Falcons
2(31): DE Datone Jones- UCLA- 49ers
2(32): WR Terrance Williams- Baylor- Ravens
3(1): ILB Jonathan Bostic- Florida- Chiefs
3(2): SS T.J. McDonald- USC- Jaguars
3(3): WR Ryan Swope- Texas A&M- Lions
3(4): TE Jordan Reed- Florida- Raiders
3(5): C Travis Frederick- Wisconsin- Eagles
3(6): G Barrett Jones- Alabama- Browns
3(7): ILB Cornelius Washington- Georgia- Cardinals
3(8): CB Jordan Poyer- Oregon State- Titans
3(9): G David Quessenberry- San Diego State- Bills
3(10)- RB Andre Ellington- Clemson- Jets
3(11): CB B.W. Webb- William & Mary- Buccaneers
3(12): DT Jesse Williams- Alabama- 49ers
3(13): LB Corey Lemoiner- Auburn- Saints
3(14): QB Mike Glennon- N.C. State- Chargers
3(15): DE/OLB Jamie Collins- Southern Mississippi- Dolphins
3(16): G Alvin Bailey- Arkansas- Rams
3(17): SS DJ Swearing- South Carolina- Steelers
3(18): RB Montee Ball- Wisconsin- Cowboys
3(19): OT David Bakhtiari- Colorado- Giants
3(20): G Garrett Gilkey- Chadron State- Dolphins
3(21): CB Logan Ryan- Rutgers- Vikings
3(22): ILB AJ Klien- Iowa State- Bengals
3(23): S Earl Wolff- N.C. State- Redskins
3(24): FB Zach Line- SMU- Colts
3(25): OT Jordan Mills- Lousiana Tech- Seahawks
3(26): RB Johnathan Franklin- UCLA- Packers
3(27): WR Stedman Bailey- West Virginia- Texans
3(28): C Brian Schenke- California- Broncos
3(29): OT Brennan Williams- UNC- Patriots
3(30): TE Travis Kelce- Cincinnati- Falcons
3(31): CB Robert Alford- Southeastern Louisiana- 49ers
3(32): OT Chris Faulk- LSU- Ravens
3(33): QB E.J. Manuel- Florida State- Texans
3(34): RB Stephon Jefferson- Nevada-Chiefs
4(3): FS Josh Evans- Florida- Raiders
4(7): ILB Nico Johnson- Alabama- Browns
4(11): FS Shmarko Thomas- Syracuse- Panthers
4(12): ILB Steve Greer- Virginia- Saints
4(20): DT Brandon Williams- Missouri Southern- Bears
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Dallas Cowboys- 8-8
The Cowboys can never get their act together when it matters most. Whether it is poor offensive line play, injuries or just plain old bad luck, this team has lost its gusto. Luckily, they are putting together some nice young talent (Bryant, Lee, Carter, Claibourne) and can continue that streak in the draft. The focus of this draft should be best player available, with preferences going towards linebacker and safety.
1] Interior Offensive Lineman- Phil Costa, Mackenzie Bernardou and Nate Livings make up a mediocre interior offensive line for the Boys who had trouble establishing rhythm last year. With the amount of quality pass rush in the NFC East, drafting one if not two offensive linemen is a must if the cowboys want to have success. Given the talent later in the draft, I think the Cowboys can wait until the second round to grab an offensive linemen, especially with other needs more pressing.
Ideal Pick: 2(17): G Dallas Thomas- Tennessee
2] Safety- The Cowboys also need a safety. The boys released Gerald Sensenbaugh and are relying on Barry Church, who is coming off a torn ACL, to be the starter even though he has never started a full season before. The Cowboys need a dynamic safety who can make big plays but keep the back half of the field safe from big deep plays. The safety is the heart of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffen’s Tampa 2, so it will probably be their first round pick as well.
Ideal Pick: 1(18): S Matt Elam- Florida
3] Running back- The Cowboys finally rid themselves of Felix Jones who was an inconsistent joke last year. Still, Murray can never safety healthy so adding a running back, not just for depth, but for significant playing time as a change up back has to be a priority addressed early in the draft.
Ideal Pick: 3(18): RB Montee Ball- Wisconsin
New York Giants- 9-7
The Giants are the most inconsistent team in the NFL. They can win a super bowl and not make the playoffs in two consecutive seasons. The Giants did get a lot done in free agency but still have plenty of needs in the draft. If they want to win a third super bowl in the Tom Coughlin era, these needs must be addressed this year.
1] Offensive Tackle- Will Beaty was resigned but the other side is the problem. David Diehl was miserable last year but, hopefully, it was just a bad year. I consider this the top need given Diehl’s play last year but I think they can address this need by adding some competition in the third round. Diehl just needs motivation or an eventual replacement, which is basically what the third round is for.
Ideal Pick: 3(19): OT Jordan Mills- Louisiana Tech
2] Linebacker- The Giants did some depth work here in free agency by signing Dan Connor and Keith Rivers but they still lack an explosive play maker. The Giants need a guy who can rush the passer and stop the run and that versatility was badly missed last year in one player. Plus, in the Giants defensive scheme, you can never have too many linebackers. One must be taken early this year.
Ideal Pick: 1(19): LB Alec Ogletree- Georgia
3] Cornerback- Corey Webster is old and overrated while Aaron Ross, who they just recently signed, was a free agent bust in Jacksonville. That leaves Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara as the projected starters next year. I like Amukamara but Thomas is mediocre and better as a slot corner anyway. Plus, as I have said before, you can never have too many cornerbacks.
Ideal Pick: 2(19): CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson- Connecticut
Chicago Bears- 10-6
If the Bears didn’t have bad luck, they would have no luck at all. A team that goes 10-6, and started 7-1, misses the playoffs. It is easy to blame Jay Cutler for their 3-5, as most of it was his fault. The Bears did a great job in free agency signing quality role players so the draft may end up being best player available. The team needs to fix their linebacker situation, both outside and inside.
1] Quarterback- For those of you gripping about how the Bears wont draft a QB in round one, don’t worry: it will never happen! The Bears are set on Jay Cutler, but they should really rethink that. The Bears have been a top ten defense the past 4 years, have brought in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte, and have improved their offensive line. It is hard compiling a list of the top needs for the Bears because of the amount of depth the team has. Jay Cutler is a head case and not worth it. The Bears need a competent, young thrower who can either push Cutler to reach his “potential” or step up and take the Bears to where they can go. And, Cutler is on his last year for his contract. It is time for him to put up or shut up.
Ideal Pick: 1(20): QB Geno Smith- West Virginia
2] Inside Linebacker- The Bears need a new inside linebacker to replace Brian Urlacher, who has been the staple of the franchise the past 13 years. The heart of the Bears is the linebacking core, so solidifying a new face of the franchise is a must. This is not their top need since the Bears signed D.J. Williams and James Anderson, but a long term fix is needed.
Ideal Pick; 2(20): ILB Kiko Alonso- Oregon
3] Defensive Tackle- The Bears franchised Henry Melton, but depth here is needed. The Bears are going to need to increase their pass rush especially if Cutler stays at Quarterback. They are going to need to be a better defense since their offense wont be able to do anything.
Ideal Pick: 4(20): DT Brandon Williams- Missouri Southern
Monday, April 15, 2013
It is time to do my greatest masterpiece yet: the NFL team needs list. In order of 1st round pick, I decipher what each team's three biggest needs are and who would be the ideal pick for each position. This will conclude with a 3 round "ideal mock draft." This is not like other mock drafts- this is not what I think WILL happen, but rather what should happen (hence ideal.0 Happy reading!
It is time to do my greatest masterpiece yet: the NFL team needs list. In order of 1st round pick, I decipher what each team's three biggest needs are and who would be the ideal pick for each position. This will conclude with a 3 round "ideal mock draft." This is not like other mock drafts- this is not what I think WILL happen, but rather what should happen (hence ideal.0 Happy reading!
NFL Team Needs:
Kansas City Chiefs- 2-14
For a team that was-based on record-the worst in the NFL, the Chiefs actually don’t have many needs. Most of their poor play was based on bad coaching and some bad luck. The few needs like quarterback, offensive lineman and cornerback were addressed in free agency and through trades. Their focus in this draft should be to add young depth to the team and fill the few needs that the team still has lingering.
1] Offensive Tackle- regardless of whether the Chiefs make Brandon Albert a right tackle or left tackle, one of the tackle spots needs to be fulfilled in the draft. And maybe two are needed if Albert is traded for a second round pick as he is rumored to be. This will probably end up being Luke Joeckel with the first overall pick, which is a solid selection for the Chiefs biggest need.
Ideal Pick: 1(1): OT Luke Joeckel- Texas A&M
2] Inside Linebacker- The Chiefs, who play a 3-4, need a inside linebacker to play alongside Derrick Johnson after the unfortunate Jovan Belcher death. The Chiefs did not sign an inside linebacker in free agency which leads me to believe that they are looking to address it in an early round in the NFL draft.
Ideal Pick: 3(1): ILB Jonathan Bostic- Florida
3] Running back- Seriously, the Chiefs have so much talent that they are looking for back ups in the draft. Jamal Charles is a quality running back but he is always having injury issues. Peyton Hillis provided the thunder to Charles’ speed but he has fallen off the face of the NFL due to injury issues of his own. Teams need at least two quality running backs in the NFL, so the Chiefs must address it in the draft. They Chiefs have a compensatory pick, which they will use here.
Ideal Pick: 3(34): RB Stephon Jefferson- Nevada
Jacksonville Jaguars- 2-14
The Jaguars are in the parallel opposite of the Chiefs. They could draft any player and it would fill a need, to a certain extent. The team is a mess but luckily, Gus Bradley is looking to turn things around. I think the Jaguars need to focus on drafting a mix of quality playmakers and safer, role players. Basically, they need to go into every pick with the thought that, whoever they draft, will be their starter next year. They are a rebuilding team. This draft should focus on defense though, since it is the stronger part of the draft.
1] Outside Linebacker- After Daryl Smith was mysteriously not resigned, the Jaguars have a massive need at outside linebacker. The signing of Geno Hayes takes care of one outside linebacker but another is in desperate need. The team was dead last in the NFL in sacks and had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. That being said, this is a very deep class in terms of linebackers so the Jaguars would be better off if they waited at least to the second round to draft an outside linebacker who can also rush the QB. No reason to waste a first round pick on a player who is slightly better than his peers.
Ideal Pick: 2(1): LB Khaseem Greene- Rutgers
2] Cornerback- Here are the two cornerbacks on the Jaguars roster: a six round pick named William Middleton, and recently signed free agent Alan Ball who is a career backup and more effective on special teams than coverage. It is time that Jacksonville find one, if not two, solid young corners to solidify the secondary. And, they should look early, with their first round pick. Gus Bradley understands the necessity of cornerbacks, (see the Seattle duo) and with the amount of talent early in the draft at this position, it becomes a no brainer. I like DeMarcus Milner and Xavier Rhodes, but Milner is a better fit for Bradley’s defense as his physical style is needed to stop the run effectively as well as play solid man coverage.
Ideal Pick: 1(2): CB DeMarcus Milner- Alabama
3] Strong Safety- This was a toss up between offensive tackle and strong safety, but at least the Jaguars have Cameron Bradfield to fill the right tackle position if need be. The Jaguars don’t have anyone at strong safety since Dawan Landry signed with the Jets. With such a talented class of safteys this year in the draft, the Jaguars would be wise to draft one in an early round to help the backend of the defense as well as get a hard hitter.
Ideal Pick: 3(2): SS T.J. McDonald- USC
Oakland Raiders- 4-12
The Oakland Raiders are a mess. They have way too many inconsistencies and organizational turnover. Luckily, the draft is the best way to establish good talent. The Raiders, like the Jaguars, have needs at many positions and would be best suited to draft the best player available. Also like the Jaguars, they should focus on defense.
1] Free Safety- Like the Jaguars, the Raiders biggest need comes at a position which has a lot of depth in this year’s class. The Raiders lost Michael Huff, who was their most talented player on the Raiders’ defense last year (not saying much), to the Ravens in free agency. This is a huge need since it seems like whoever is playing free safety will need to play great deep coverage as the Raiders’ corners are suspect. Since the Jaguars do not have a 2nd round pick, and they need to fill their third round pick with another position, they will have to reach deep. But, like I said, I think there is good talent back there.
Ideal Pick: 4(3): FS Josh Evans- Florida
2] Pass rusher- It doesn’t matter if it’s a defensive end, tackle, linebacker (inside or outside), someone for the silver and black needs to sack the quarterback! (hey, that rhymed) Here is the deal, the Raiders have signed multiple one or maybe two year starters to add depth but they need an explosive play maker so that they don’t keep ending up drafting in the top 10 ever year. If the Jaguars do end up taking a corner, then the Raiders can have their way with the talented group of players.
Ideal Pick: 1(3): DE Ezekiel Ansah- BYU
3] Tight End- This draft should be defensive for the Raiders but drafting a tight end is a must since they lost Brandon Myers to the Giants. Matt Flynn needs a solid tight end to build his confidence and to compliment the speedy wide outs of Oakland. This is a pretty good crop of tight ends at the top so the Raiders may need to trade up or get lucky.
Ideal Pick: 3(4): TE Jordan Reed- Florida
Philadelphia Eagles- 4-12
The “dream team” is over but the good news is that a complete rebuild is not necessary. The Eagles have some good young talent to help recoup the mess of the past couple of years. The Eagles need to focus on the offensive line in this draft. They couldn’t block anyone last year, which resulted in Michael Vick being rushed out of the pocket constantly and end up with broken bones and interceptions. Other than that, the Eagles have done a nice job in free agency to fill all of the big needs.
1] Right Tackle- Jason Peters coming back is a good thing, but his recovery may be slow. And that’s on the left side of the line! King Dunlap was playing right tackle and, despite the fact that he was terrible, is gone anyway. The need for right tackle becomes even more eminent when one considers that Michael Vick is a lefty, which means the right side is the blind one. That all being said, with such a good class, the Eagles can probably find a competent starter early.
Ideal Pick: 1(4): OT Eric Fisher- Central Michigan
2] Cornerback- Remember when everyone thought the Eagles were Superbowl bound because they signed Dominique Rodgers Cromartie AND Nnamdi Asomough? That ended in failure as the team ended up in a worse place in coverage then they were the year before. Now the Eagles have Cary Wiliams and Bradley Fletcher, but neither of those can take on a top wide receiver like Hakeem Nicks or Dez Bryant (who make up 4 of the Eagles games.) The Eagles need to take one early, and probably need to take another corner in the later rounds.
Ideal Pick: 2(3): CB Jamar Taylor- Boise State
3] Center- The Eagles have a starting center in Jason Kelce but his poor play and injury history probably deems an upgrade necessary. With the focus of the draft being on the offensive line, grabbing a starting center in an early round can at least add depth and at most help Vick stay on his feet.
Ideal Pick: 3(5): C Travis Frederick- Wisconsin
Detroit Lions- 4-12
The Lions have some major organizational issues. They make boneheaded plays, always have locker room drama and can never seem to do enough to solidify a victory. This draft should focus on drafting quality guys- both on and off the field. Detroit needs a major attitude adjustment if they want to reach the level of success, which they have the talent for.
1] Defensive End- The Lions lost Cliff Avril to the Seahawks in free agency, which is unfortunate given the amount of young talent he had and the relatively cheap price he signed for. The Lions also probably need to find a successor to Kyle Vanden Bosch who really regressed this past season. Luckily, the talent at the top of the draft is really good this year for defensive end so the Lions should have no problem drafting a quality defensive end to fill their biggest need.
Ideal Pick: 1(5): DE/OLB Dion Jordan- Oregon
2] Offensive Tackle- It was a toss up between offensive tackle and defensive end for the Lions’ biggest need. Jeff Backus retired and Riley Reiff is moving to guard which means the Lions are probably looking for two offensive tackles. One must be drafted in the first two rounds of the draft, as the Lions did sign Corey Hilliard who could be the other starter if a late round flyer doesn’t work out. What I like about Kyle Long is that he can also play guard so if Reiff stays at tackle, the Lions can use Long as the right or left guard.
Ideal Pick: 2(4): OT Kyle Long- Oregon
3] Wide Receiver- This sounds crazy considering the Lions have the best receiver in the NFL but the team is in desperate need of a #2 wide receiver. Ryan Broyles, while talented, has torn two ACLs his short football career. Nate Burleson, Bryant Johnson and Mike Thomas are backups at best. The Lions have to add more weapons in order to keep Stafford confident and keep the tempo of the game up.
Ideal Pick: 3(3): WR Ryan Swope- Texas A&M
Cleveland Browns- 5-11
The Browns are a young team who can never finish a game. They have some young offensive stars and a very underrated defense. If they can have a good draft here, they make surprise some folks next year. In the draft, the Browns have a myriad of positions to fix so they would probably be best suited taking the best player available. Lucky for them, the high draft picks will probably allow them such options.
1] Inside Linebacker- Don’t be surprised if the Browns trade down this year considering they lost a second round pick in the supplemental draft (Josh Gordon) and really like Manti Te’o, who would be a major reach at the 1(6). Chris Gocong is an average player who is coming off a torn Achilles while D’Qwell Jackson is probably best suited as the weak side linebacker. Assuming the Browns stay where they are, this pick is probably best suited for a later round as the talent this year is deep.
Ideal Pick: 4(7): ILB Nico Johnson- Alabama
2] Offensive Guard- The Browns have a solid offensive line, but their weak link is Shawn Lauvao who should have been replaced midway through the season. Spending an early pick on a guard makes sense given the talent in this year’s class and the relative need for the team. Trent Richardson cannot go down with another injury and, if nothing else, adding a guard would provide more depth for a team that desperately needs it.
Ideal Pick: 3(6): G Barrett Jones- Alabama
3] Cornerback- Even though the Browns did sign Chris Owens and have Joe Haden, a team can never have too many good cornerbacks, especially a team that was constantly beaten deep like the Browns were. Assuming the Browns stay at the 1(6), this is probably the best chance they have to solidify their secondary as either Xavier Rhodes or Dee Milner would fill the need. Since I have Milner taken early, Rhodes will be taken here.
Ideal Pick: 1(6): CB Xavier Rhodes- Florida State
Arizona Cardinals- 5-11
The team started 4-0 but then lost 11 of their last 12 games! The good news is that Arizona has a young, talented defense so look for them to draft offense. They need help along the line and probably need some more explosive playmakers as well. A few late round defensive players make sense especially given the talent and depth of the defense this year.
1] Quarterback- This will be my most controversial selection in the entire ideal mock draft so hang tight- just to let you know, the ideal pick is Matt Barkley at the 1(7). The NFL Draft is notorious for selections which don’t make that much sense at first but after a deeper look, can be made much more clear. First, start with Carson Palmer. He is old and has lost a lot of his talent (see Oakland 2012) so giving the team the option of going with the young guy if Palmer doesn’t work out is a huge possibility. Even though the Cardinals did sign Drew Stanton, he has proven nothing more than a career backup. But why does that have to be a first round pick given the terrible talent in this year’s class? I think that is silly logic, grouping a QB class together doesn’t make sense given that every QB and his story is different. And each QB would be a different fit in different offenses. Barkley would be a great fit in Bruce Arians’ offense as his accuracy and potential is just a step behind Andrew Luck. Barkley would have a mentor in Carson Palmer (who also went to USC) similar to Drew Brees to Phillip Rivers or Kurt Warner to Eli Manning. Once Palmer proves he has lost a step, Barkley can come in. And, its not like the Cardinals are all that invested in Palmer since he was just a 7th round pick. Barkley would be popular with the fans and they can correct the wrongs of a past USC QB mistake they made. If they wait till the second round, some team will take a leap and draft Barkley. The pick has to be now.
Ideal Pick: 1(7): QB Matt Barkley- USC
2] Offensive Tackle- Levi Brown was injured this past year but also needs to be upgraded or at least moved to right tackle until he can fully unleash is potential. The Cardinals have done nothing at this position in free agency so that probably means they will be looking for one in the draft. Unfortunately for them, Joeckel and Fisher will probably both be off the board at this point and Lane Johnson isn’t nearly as talented as the other two are so look for them to take a tackle in a later round. Also, Justin Pugh makes the most amount of sense for the Cardinals since he can play guard, which is also a position of need for them. If Pugh doesn’t work at tackle, moving him to guard is an option which means that the Cardinals would not be wasting a high second round pick on a backup (as they have been known to do.)
Ideal Pick: 2(6): OT/G Justin Pugh- Syracuse
3] Inside Linebacker- The Cardinals are in desperate need for an inside linebacker. Daryl Washington has been suspended 4 games due to substance abuse while Paris Lennon is a 35 year old free agent who should probably just retire. The Cardinals have also done nothing about this position in free agency but that shouldn’t be a problem given that there is tremendous depth at inside linebacker this year. Cornelius Washington can also play outside linebacker which, like Pugh, would fill another need if he were to move there.
Ideal Pick: 3(7): ILB Cornelius Washington- Georgia
Buffalo Bills- 6-10
Every year, experts say “this is the Bills’ year!” And it never is. The Bills have a lot of talent but just no leadership or real quality where it counts. This draft they have to focus on drafting leaders to help rally the team around, specifically on offense. They have enough soldiers who can do the work but they need a few of the special players to maximize their talents.
1] Quarterback- No position screams leadership more than QB. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a smart QB but just lacked the it factor necessary to take this team to the next level. He was cut. Signing Kevin Kolb means that the Bills probably wont take a QB in the first round but it is a must by round 3. What I like in particular about Ryan Nassib is his leadership. He carried an average Syracuse team to a pretty good record and was reported to be extremely impressive in interviews. He is a prime candidate to stay in New York, just go a little south to Buffalo.
Ideal Pick: 2(10): QB Ryan Nassib- Syracuse
2] Wide Receiver- The team lost David Nelson in free agency, so they are desperate for a second wide receiver to compliment Stevie Johnson. This is unfortunate as the wide receiver class is pretty weak this year. But, thankfully the Bills have a high draft picks o they can probably get the first swipe on any receiver they would like. Either Cordarrelle Patterson or Tavon Austin could be the dynamic #2 for Nassib, but I like Patterson better because he seems like a better locker room guy and steps up on the field. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, which should propel him to a great NFL player.
Ideal Pick: 1(8): WR Cordarrelle Patterson- Tennessee
3] Guard- Losing Andy Levitre was huge for this team as he lead the way for CJ Spiller. A replacement for him should be the #1 need for the team, but in a draft deep with guards and without a great passing game, guard comes in third.
Ideal Pick: 3(9): G David Quessenberry- San Diego State
New York Jets- 6-10
The Jets were a comedy of errors last year but have the personnel to turn it around. They, like the Jets, lack offensive power to match the defensive prowess. So, this draft must focus on offense. Unfortunately, this is a rather defensive draft so it looks like the Jets will have some slim picking, especially in later rounds. This is why they must focus on offense in the early rounds in order to make it back to the AFC championship.
1] Offensive Tackle- Many people think that Mark Sanchez was at the heart of the failures of this team last year but he also played with a terrible right tackle in Austin Howard. In fact, Austin Howard was the worst right tackle in the league last year. I’m not saying Sanchez would have been a pro bowl player with a better right tackle, but he did lead his team to back to back AFC championships. Something has to be done, and I think the Jets can get it done in round 2.
Ideal Pick: 2(8): OT Menelik Watson- Flordia State
2] Running back- Shonn Greene left for Tennessee but he wasn’t very good anyway. The Jets are built to be a run first team and, with the amount of depth at this position in this year’s draft, may address this position twice in the draft.
Ideal Pick: 3(10): RB Andre Ellington- Clemson
3] Rush Linebacker- Antwan Barnes is the only rush linebacker on the Jets roster. Given that it is the most talented spot in the draft, especially at the top, the is probably where the Jets will spend their first round pick. The Jets are a defensively minded football team, and need to get after the quarterback.
Ideal Pick: 1(9): DE/OLB Bjorn Werner- Florida State
Tennessee Titans- 6-10
The Titans were the most inconsistent team last year. They were blown out big and they won big games. The problem is twofold: lack of organizational leadership and the lack of defensive talent. The draft should be able to fix the later, as the defense this year is solid.
1] Guard- Yes, I know the Titans have signed Andy Levitre but they need a second guard to compliment him on the other side. CJ2K needs to find his explosiveness again and part of the problem is that he had to dance around defenders coming up the middle. This, like I’ve said before, is a talented group of guards. The Titans should be able to find someone in a second round.
Ideal Pick: 2(9): G Larry Warford- Kentucky
2] Defensive End- The Titans need a big defensive end that can pressure the QB and stop the run. Luckily, there are two this year that will probably be drafted in the top 15. The Titans do have Kameron Wimbley and Derrick Morgan, the later playing much better than the former. Still, it is probably the reason why they would be more inclined to take Star Lotulelei as opposed to Sharif Floyd. Lotulelei can also play nose tackle and his size will also serve him well as an end. Think of Lotulelei as the return of Albert Haynesworth when he was good on the Titans.
Ideal Pick: 1(10): DT Star Lotulelei- Utah
3] Cornerback- The Titans have a terrible secondary but they have some young cornerbacks. Drafting someone early, though, makes sense if the other young guys don’t work out. You can never have too many corners, especially with Verner being a free agent next year. Maybe they draft a starter but some depth at the position would also be good.
Ideal Pick: 3(8): CB Jordan Poyer- Oregon State
San Diego Chargers- 7-9
The Chargers are just good enough to break your heart. No longer are the days of a young Philip Rivers and a great defense. The Chargers have become the classic choke case, both in games and throughout the season. The Chargers need to focus on offensive line, at all positions, if they want to reach the next level.
1] Offensive Tackle- Jared Gaither, Jeremy Clay and King Dunlap make the leagues worst offensive tackles in the NFL. They probably need to replace all 3 of them (yes, I know they just signed Dunlap but he is awful.) This definitely needs to be the first round pick, even if they have to trade up to get one of the three best ones.
Ideal Pick: 1(11): OT Lane Johnson- Oklahoma
2] Offensive Guard- Losing Louis Vasquez was huge, considering he was the only good offensive lineman on the Chargers. They need to find at least one in the draft, and early in the draft, to compensate for this loss. They did sign Chad Rinehart who is a serviceable starter, but drafting a young guy is the right thing for them to do, especially if they are about to rebuild.
Ideal Pick: 2(15): G Terron Armstead- Arkansas Pine Bluff
3] Quarterback- The Chargers probably have to draft too many offensive lineman in this draft to focus on a QB in the first two rounds, but it is a huge need. In a situation where Rivers goes down or is broken beyond repair, the Chargers need to look younger at a guy to develop. And, the Chargers are in a great situation to do it now considering Ken Wisenhunt, who is normally pretty good at developing young project players, is the new head coach.
Ideal Pick: 3(14): QB Mike Glennon- N.C. State
Miami Dolphins- 7-9
If the offseason was a game, then the Dolphins tried their very best to win. They tried to create a dream team via free agency, which has no proven success in the NFL. Still, overpaying free agents means that, in the draft, their focus should be on the future. This team actually has a lot of talent and if they can get everything together, they can create some damage. Plus, they have 5 picks in the first three rounds so they can add some young depth.
Note: Since the Dolphins have 5 draft picks, I am going to arrange it by draft pick as opposed to the level of need.
1] Defensive Tackle- The Dolphins just franchised Randy Starks, but he is only on a one year dear and will turn 30 this year. In a year with so much talent at defensive tackle, the Dolphins have to take a defensive tackle early this year. Especially if one of the top ones “slides” like he does in my ideal draft, the Dolphins have no choice. It fills a future need.
Ideal Pick: 1(12): DT Sharif Floyd- Florida
2] Offensive Tackle- One free agent the Dolphins were not able to sign was Jake Long, who was a left tackle. Jonathan Martin will move to the blind side, which means the Dolphins will probably look to an early draft pick to solidify the other offensive tackle.
Ideal Pick: 2(11): OT David Bakhtiari- Colorado
3] Cornerback- The Dolphins get another second round pick for Vontae Davis. Ironically, they will be looking for a cornerback with this selection since Davis, and now Sean Smith, is gone. They did sign Brent Grimes but he is coming off an injury and the Dolphins need two cornerbacks, so Grimes only fills one need. And, like I’ve said, you can never have too many cornerbacks.
Ideal Pick: 2(24): CB Darius Slay- Mississippi State
4] Pass Rusher- The Dolphins signed Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler, but Cameron Wake is the only true pass rushing linebacker that the Dolphins have. In such a deep class, and with so few true needs, the Dolphins would be wise to add depth here.
Ideal Pick: 3(15): DE/OLB Jamie Collins- Southern Mississippi
5] Interior Line Depth- The Dolphins need younger offensive linemen who can step in if injury or poor play consumes the rather veteran starting group.
Ideal Pick 3(20): G Garrett Gilkey- Chadron State
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 7-9
This team is a rollercoaster. When they play their best, they are as good as anyone. When they are playing their worse, they remind fans of the old buccaneers. Who is this team? The draft is a great way to answer the question. Building a solid defense should be the first priority, as the offense is actually pretty well rounded.
1] Cornerback- The Buccaneers had the worst secondary last year. Part of it was bad safety play, which they fixed by signing Dashon Goldsen and drafting Mark Barron last year. The other part was bad cornerback play. Eric Wright was a free agent bust, and he’s about it at cornerback. The Buccaneers are making a push for Revis, so maybe they won’t stay here in a few weeks. Assuming they do, look for them to draft a cornerback in several early rounds.
Ideal Pick: 1(13): CB Desmond Trufant- Washington
2] Defensive Tackle- 3 of the 4 defensive linemen are set for the Buccaneers. DaQuan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn play the ends and Gerald McCoy is one of the defensive tackles. But Roy Miller left for Jacksonville so there is a hole at defensive tackle. Someone early in the draft should fix that.
Ideal Pick: 2(12): DT Datone Jones- UCLA
3] Another Cornerback- Like I said before, the Buccaneers had the worst secondary. They actually don’t have that many other needs, besides tight end, so another cornerback here would help solidify a weak secondary. This is a must.
Ideal Pick: 3(11): CB B.W. Webb- William & Mary
Carolina Panthers- 7-9
Cam Newton may have fallen victim to the sophomore slump but the Panthers improved as an overall team. With a more cohesive defense and an explosive offense, this team may be a few pieces away from breaking out. One thing is for certain, though, they have to have a good draft. It starts with defense.
1] Cornerback- Chris Gamble retired early and was the leader of the Panthers’ secondary. The Panthers brought in some depth by signing DJ Moore and Drayton Florence and resigning Captain Munnerlyn, but what they lack is a true #1 cornerback who can match up with #1 receivers. Drafting a big corner early in the draft is a huge priority.
Ideal Pick: 2(13): CB David Amerson- N.C. State
2] Defensive Tackle- Like cornerback, the Panthers are lacking a legitimate #1 defensive tackle but did bring in some depth with Collin Cole and Dwan Edwards. For the team to reach the next level, a consistent pass rusher and run stopper is needed.
Ideal Pick: 1(14): DT Sheldon Richardson- Missouri
3] Free Safety- This was a toss up between offensive line depth and free safety. Since this draft has to focus on defense, I went with the latter. Hiro Nakamura has shown nothing so bringing in some early round competition will either spark his potential or be a replacement. Either way, the Panthers need to stop big plays deep.
Ideal Pick: 4(11): FS Shmarko Thomas- Syracuse
New Orleans Saints- 7-9
The Saints are a great example of why a head coach is the most important position on a football team. This former playoff team failed to have a winning record. Most of that has to do with the league worst defense, which should make up every single draft selection this year. The Saints have hired Rob Ryan to help their efforts, which puts even more emphasis on finding guys who fit his scheme.
1] Safety- The Saints allowed the most deep pass plays of any other team last year. Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper looked completely out of place throughout the year. Maybe that has to do with poor coaching, but Harper will be 31 and Malcolm Jenkins is on the last year of his deal, so a new safety is probably needed regardless. Someone early in the draft should solve the trick.
Ideal Pick: 1(15): S Kenny Vacaro- Texas
2] Outside Linebacker- The Saints have added some depth here with Victor Butler and Junior Gallette, but in Ryan’s scheme you can never have too many outside linebackers. Spending an early pick on an outside linebacker is also a need considering the Saints were terrible when trying to stop the run. A guy who can pass rush would be an added plus.
Ideal Pick: 3(13): LB Corey Lemoiner- Auburn
3] Inside Linebacker- Vilma is getting older and after the Bountygate scandal, it makes sense for the Saints to draft a young guy to be the eventual replacement. And, like I said above, the more linebackers the better for Rob Ryan.
Ideal Pick: 4(12): ILB Steve Greer- Virginia
St. Louis Rams- 7-8-1
Will Sam Bradford break out? The Rams have to ensure he has enough weapons and enough protection so that he can maximize his potential. This draft has to focus mostly on offense, as the defense was extremely effective and underrated. I like the Rams and they could sneak up on some teams next year.
1] Wide Receiver- Since Torry Holt left, the Rams have yet to find a #1 receiver. This must be their first priority in this draft considering Danny Amendola left and the team is without a real threat. It will be interesting to see how Brian Quick turns out, but even if he ends up being a star, Bradford needs more real weapons. This is the only way to see whether he actually deserved to be drafted #1 overall.
Ideal Pick: 1(16): WR Tavon Austin- West Virginia
2] Running back- Longtime Ram Steven Jackson bolted for Atlanta. Daryl Richardson and Isiah Pead are good change up backs but neither are sufficient to be starters for a run first team. The Rams have to draft a running back early, and they will be one of the few teams to do so. They will have the first swipe at the surprisingly decent group of running backs this year.
Ideal Pick: 1(22): RB Eddie Lacy: Alabama
3] Safety- The Rams’ weakest position on defense last year was safety. The Rams have to draft a player that can play both strong and free since their defense has a rotational safety. This means that they have to draft Eric Reed, even if it is early in the second round. Reid is the best player for their specific defense and would be a huge upgrade over their current regime.
Ideal Pick: 2(16): S Eric Reed- LSU
4] Offensive Guard- I don’t normally fill out 4 needs, but since the Rams have two first round picks, they have a third rounder as their 4th pick. Offensive guard is the next biggest need as Sam Bradford is fragile and needs all the upgrades on the offensive line he can get. The Rams did sign Jake Long to fill out the left tackle and resigned Chris Williams to be guard. But, depth is always needed on the offensive line.
Ideal Pick: 3(16): G Alvin Bailey- Arkansas